Midnight Christmas mass passes off peacefully in Kandhamal

December 25th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Dec 25 (IANS) Midnight Christmas mass was attended by thousands of Christians amid tight security across Orissa, including Kandhamal district that had witnessed widespread anti-Christian violence earlier this year. In many places Hindus joined Christians in the celebrations, officials said Thursday.”We have not received information of any trouble. It seems to be all peaceful,” the Archbishop of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar Raphael Cheenath told IANS.

“We held the Christmas mass with prayer and singing,” Cheenath said, adding that he is satisfied with the security arrangements made by the government.

“We are confident the Christmas celebrations will also pass off peacefully in the state,” Cheenath said.

Midnight mass was held peacefully in Kandhamal amid heavy security cover.

Officials said except for the felling of two trees on the road in two places early Thursday no untoward incident was reported. The trees were promptly removed by security forces.

“There has been no problem so far,” Kandhamal district collector Krishan Kumar told IANS by phone.

About 8,000 people still living in government-run relief camps in the district also attended the Christmas mass and decorated their camps, officials said.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread anti-Christian violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides Aug 23. At least 38 people were killed in the state and thousands of Christians forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs. Extremist Hindu groups charged Christians with the murders, a charge repeatedly denied by Christian groups.

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